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Arakan Army claims military is losing war; CPJ calls for investigation into death of journalist in Arakan State

FROM THE DVB NEWSROOM

Arakan Army claims military is losing war

The Arakan Army (AA) stated that the Burma Army is on the verge of losing the war in Arakan State as its military bases have fallen one by one since fighting resumed Nov. 13. Myebon, Minbya, Mrauk-U, Kyauktaw, Pauktaw and Taungpyo in Arakan and Paletwa in southern Chinland have come under AA control. 

The Burma Army destroyed the Maei bridge which connects Ann and Taungup townships, on Feb. 16. It also destroyed Kyaukkyi Pauk bridge, situated along Maei-Kyaukphyu road, in Kyaukphyu Township on Feb. 15. This has caused transportation problems for residents. 

Arakan State media outlet Western News is reporting that all telecommunications and internet services have been shut down in the capital Sittwe since Feb. 17. The military-run Mytel and MPT are only working in Kyaukphyu, Taungup, Thandwe, Ann and Yanbye Townships, according to reports.  

CPJ calls for investigation into death of journalist in Arakan State

The body of freelance reporter Myat Thu Tun (aka Phoe Thiha) and six others were recovered by the AA after it seized control of the 378th Light Infantry Battalion (LIB) base in Mrauk-U on Feb. 5. Arakan State media reported that he was jailed in 2022 for criticizing the military.

“We strongly condemn the murder of journalist Myat Thu Tun and call on Myanmar authorities to identify and prosecute those responsible immediately. A culture of impunity has taken deep root in Myanmar since the 2021 democracy-suspending coup. The junta must stop killing and start protecting journalists,” said Shawn Crispin, the CPJ senior Southeast Asia representative.

Burma was ranked ninth on the CPJ 2023 Global Impunity Index, an annual global ranking that documents the killing of journalists. Burma is the world’s second worst jailer of journalists, according to the CPJ 2023 Prison Census.

A protest outside of the UN office in Tokyo called for international action against the military on Feb. 15. (Credit: DVB)

Protest in Japan calls for UN intervention in Burma

The Burmese community in Japan staged a protest in front of the U.N. office in Tokyo on Feb. 15. They called for international intervention against “arbitrary and violent killings” perpetrated by the military, citing the video that circulated online Feb. 6 showing the burning alive of two Yaw Defense Force (YDF) members in Gangaw Township of Magway Region last November.

The protesters handed over a letter to the U.N. office in Japan addressed to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres concerning the “unjust and violent killings” of civilians. The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) stated that a total of 4,545 people have been killed by pro-military groups in Burma.

News by Region

NAYPYIDAW—The grandchildren of former dictator Ne Win, along with popular celebrities such as Khant Si Thu and Soe Myat Nanda, visited injured soldiers who had fought in Arakan State, according to sources close to the military. 

 “At a time when the army is relying on cronies, Aye Ne Win [Ne Win’s grandson] and his brothers are the ones who are urging people to donate,” a source told DVB. Ne Win’s family recently made a donation to aid injured soldiers in Yangon. 

SAGAING—At least 20 young men were arrested over a two-day period at military checkpoints in Shwebo Township near Kachin State on Feb. 15, according to residents.

“They conducted checks there, inspecting every car and making arrests,” a Shwebo resident told DVB. On Feb. 16, approximately 30 more young people were said to have been arrested at another checkpoint in the township. 

SHAN—Muse Township residents said that 10 men were arrested at the 105 Mile Zone on Feb. 12 and were allegedly beaten by the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA). A man’s hand was allegedly broken. 

“He was beaten almost to death. They accused him of having a gun in his house. However, no gun was found when they searched,” said a Muse resident. The man was later released by the MNDAA due to an appeal from Buddhist monks and civil society groups. 

Taunggyi residents claimed that the Burma Army provided weapons to Pa-O militias from six townships in Taunggyi district on Feb. 17, with the intent to protect the Defence Services Command and General Staff College in Kalaw. 

“Officials from Eastern Command started providing [weapons] in January,” said a resident. Fighting in Hsihseng, 55 miles from Taunggyi, between the Pa-O National Liberation Army (PNLA) and the Burma Army started last month. 

YANGON—Around 100 people participated in a rally in support of the conscription law in six townships on Feb. 15. Members of the military-proxy Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), military families, and nationalists held banners with messages in support of the law and the military regime. 

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